Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and MBDA have signed a licencing agreement to establish a manufacturing facility for the Final Assembly, Integration and Test (FAIT) of MBDA's Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM).
Image courtesy BDL
The agreement was signed by Shri NP Diwakar, Director (Technical), from BDL and Mr George Kyriakides, International Industrial Cooperation Director from MBDA in the presence of Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retd), CMD, BDL at a virtual ceremony. Shri P. Radhakrishna, Director (Production), BDL, Shri N Srinivasulu, Director (Finance), BDL and senior officials of both the companies were also present.
Under the licensing agreement, MBDA will transfer the equipment and knowledge to BDL for establishing the facility. Work on establishing this capability in India is due to start immediately and is expected to commence operations by the year 2022-23.
Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retd), CMD, BDL stated that signing of the licencing agreement reinforces the Company's commitment to contribute towards 'Make in India' and the 'Atmanirbhar' initiatives of Government of India in the Defence sector.
ASRAAM is one of the Within Visual Range missiles available and BDL will be manufacturing these at its Bhanur Unit for the domestic market and then export through MBDA. The new facility will provide India with the ability to carry out final assembly, integration and test of ASRAAM missiles.
BDL has been endeavouring to forge ties with international OEMs in pursuit of its expansion programme. The agreement signed with MBDA today, is one such effort, which will go a long way in further strengthening the collaboration, which BDL has with MBDA for its various missile programmes.
George Kyriakides, International Industrial Cooperation Director of MBDA said: “We are very pleased to be establishing this new ASRAAM facility in India with BDL. MBDA has a long and highly successful history of working with BDL for over four decades, a partnership that has seen BDL manufacture large number of MBDA-designed Milan missiles in India.”
The agreement to establish the facility follows on from an earlier Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between BDL and MBDA on ASRAAM FAIT signed in 2019.
This new BDL ASRAAM facility will have the potential to also conduct maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of ASRAAM missiles. The facility can also be adapted to conduct final assembly, integration and test of MBDA's CAMM missile. CAMM is the missile used by the Sea Ceptor naval air defence system that has been offered as Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) requirement.
ASRAAM, a Within Visual Range Air Dominance weapon, is a New Generation Close Combat Missile. Its low drag, aerodynamic airframe, unrivalled speed and manoeuverability throughout its flight, provide increased agility in its category. The missile has full 'Lock On Before Launch' and 'Lock On After Launch' operating modes.
BDL is the only Company in India involved in manufacturing various types of missiles and underwater weapons for supply to the Indian Armed Forces and friendly foreign counties. The Company also handles launchers, test equipment, refurbishment/life extension of missiles and countermeasures systems for domestic as well as international market. MBDA is the only European defence group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems that correspond to the full range of current and future operational needs of the three armed forces (land, sea and air). MBDA has a significant presence in five European countries and in the USA.
Tushar M, Defence Analyst at data and analytics company, GlobalData, said: “The new facility is expected to commence its operations by 2022-23 and will also have the capability to conduct periodic maintenance, repair and overhaul operations. With BDL having no prior experience in the production of short-range air-to-air missiles, the partnership with MBDA will be crucial for developing indigenous R&D and manufacturing ecosystem in the missile domain.
“Partnerships between Indian companies and global OEMs will play a pivotal role in achieving self-reliance and incremental enhancement of defence equipment manufacturing capability. The technological knowhow and manufacturing knowledge obtained from the ASRAAM project is anticipated to benefit the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Next-Generation Close Combat Missile (NGCCM) project. Under the NGCCM project, DRDO intends to develop an advanced short-range infrared homing missile for the fifth-generation aircraft.
“The NGCCM is expected to replace the R-73 missile on the existing fourth and 4.5 generation aircraft in service with the IAF. The ASRAAMs will complement the aging Russian R-73 missiles in service with the IAF. Owing to its high countermeasures’ resistance and 90-degree off-boresight targeting & Lock-On After Launch (LOAL) capability, ASRAAM is expected to offer superior performance than the R-73 missile.
“The induction of ASRAAM will enhance the IAF’s air interdiction capability and provide a significant combat edge during future conflicts. The IAF plans to integrate ASRAAM on several key combat aircraft including Rafale, Mirage, Jaguar and Su-30MKI. In 2014, India signed a contract to procure 384 ASRAAMs. While the current inventory of missiles may be sufficient for Rafale, Mirage and Jaguar aircraft, additional missiles may be required if the air force decides to equip its entire fleet of around 270 Su-30MKI with ASRAAMs. The standardisation of Close Combat Missile (CCM) across the fleet is expected to help the IAF reduce their weapon procurement and operations & maintenance (O&M) costs.”